UTD Recognized by UEDA

June 25, 2021

A student walking through the stone arch of a concrete building.

UT Dallas - 2007

The University of Texas at Dallas was once again recognized by the University Economic Development Association (UEDA [University Economic Development Association] ) at their 2020 Summit. The theme of the summit was “The Logistics of Economic Development: Connecting Talent, Innovation and Place,” and UTD demonstrated that academic institutions could play a significant role in placemaking when it was named as a finalist in the “Place” category, for its submission on the UT Dallas Campus Landscape Enhancement Project (CLEP [Campus Landscape Enhancement Project] ). The special nature of this multi-year, multimillion dollar project caught the jury’s attention and helped promote the University to a wider audience.

Planning for CLEP [Campus Landscape Enhancement Project] began in 2008, and was meant to convert a very practical but forgettable campus into an environment worthy of a world-class institution. At the time, the University was dominated by a cluster of concrete brutalist buildings around a stone plaza, ringed by parking lots. There were no residence halls, few trees, and very little green space. Despite the research and education happening within, visitors found UTD to be unimpressive.

Dr. Calvin D. Jamison, vice president for facilities and economic development, convinced University donors to fund a project that was more than just landscaping, but sought to change the entire campus environment. Margaret McDermott, the widow of one of UT Dallas’ founders Eugene McDermott, understood the importance of creating a physical space that was a welcoming home for students, conducive to creative thought, and left a lasting impression on potential partners, so she presented the University with a large gift to start the project. Then the Peter Walker Partners, the architectural firm that designed the 9/11 Memorial, was tasked with reimagining the UT Dallas campus.

Margaret McDermott … understood the importance of creating a physical space that was a welcoming home for students, conducive to creative thought, and left a lasting impression on potential partners

A collection of ground plantings around a stone sign in front of a reflecting pool, as seen from between two magnolia trees.

UT Dallas - 2020

In three grand phases, the University was transformed. A horseshoe-shaped copse of 78 live oaks and an urban forest with over 5,000 native Texas trees and shrubs guide visitors from the main south entrance into the campus core. Five reflecting pools flanked by double rows of magnolia trees lead up the South Mall towards a trellised plaza and a mist fountain. Terraced lawns, an elm grove and more fountains grace the North Mall. The banks of Cottonwood Creek are filled with a variety of new tree plantings. Rutford road has been converted into a wide, tree-lined Pedestrian Promenade that runs through the heart of campus. A scenic 3.5 mile hike-and-bike trail winds its way around and through campus.

350 people labored on CLEP [Campus Landscape Enhancement Project] , and the project cost around $70 million, most of which was raised through donations.

Visitors now praise UTD’s “breathtaking views” and “perfect and clean environment,” while alumni who graduated over a decade ago remark on the University’s dramatic transformation. The UT Dallas campus has become the setting of a vibrant academic-centered life for the entire community. These improved surroundings have also translated into more concrete benefits: UTD has attracted many more students since CLEP [Campus Landscape Enhancement Project] started, from 15,000 in 2008 to 30,000 in 2019.

The F&ED Economic Development team contributes to The University of Texas at Dallas’ goal of serving as an economic engine for the region. They do so by fostering partnerships with local governments and businesses, providing research and analysis of the region’s economy and labor market, and promoting local communities to out-of-state companies that are considering relocating to DFW.


< More News